Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Happy Father's Day

~Published in the Charleston Gazette on Father's Day - June 17, 2012~

Father's Day is an occasion to mark and celebrate the contribution your father has made to your life. Whether he is still with you or has already passed, whether you are young or old, I’m sure you have wonderful memories of your father.

I am happy to honor the memory of my father. He was one in a million! In my earliest memories, my father was always there – always smiling – a happy man.

I was an “only” child – and the apple of my father’s eye!

But a good father knows that he must model his parenting after God. He knows that the way he rears his children will have a direct effect on how the children view their Heavenly Father. If a father is overly strict, then his children will grow up viewing God as a harsh and judging God, but if he does not discipline at all then they will think God allows anything.

My father loved me but he disciplined me, too. And he started when I was very young. At only four years old, it seems I was misbehaving while we were visiting my grandparents. My father kept telling me to stop what I was doing but I ignored him repeatedly. Finally, he told me to sit on an ottoman nearby. I sat - bouncing back up shortly. My father pointed his finger and said firmly, “Sit down!” I did, but only a few seconds passed before I jumped up again. This time, he showed me he meant business by giving me a couple of rather hard thumps on the behind. Tearing up, I sat again, but in a few minutes, I bounced back up like a rubber ball. This time, my dad grabbed me by the arm, whacked my behind again and said, “I told you to sit down, young lady!” Sobbing and rubbing my derriere, I proclaimed, “Daddy, I can’t sit down!”

When laughter erupted throughout the room, the punishment was all over, but I never forgot the incident and was a little quicker to obey him after that painful episode.

As I grew up, my father was an integral part of my life.

He worked shift work making it easier for him to do the things for me that my mother’s eight to four job prevented her from doing. Therefore, I enjoyed some quality time with my father that others may not have had the good fortune to do with theirs.

When I came down with a cold or sore throat and had to stay in bed for a day or two, everything else stopped for my dad. He watched over me diligently, keeping a large glass of fruit juice over crushed ice beside my bed from early morning until I went to sleep at night. He sat beside my bed reading to me or just keeping me company. To this day, many decades later, when I’m ill, I revisit the memories – and yearn for my father’s pampering.

Besides obeying our Father in heaven, there is no responsibility more important for a father than providing the necessities for his family. But my father provided so much more than basic needs.

His continual good humor was contagious and the love he had for God and his family overflowed onto almost everyone he met.

He often quoted, Hebrews 13:2: Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.

My father didn’t have to tell me how to live my life. I learned from watching him.

Happy Father’s Day!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

The Sacred Power Within

 Published in the Charleston Gazette~ Sunday, June 3, 2012~

 Time passes. Memory dims.

Someone mentions a site you visited or a special occasion you were involved in long ago, but, try as you may, you can’t recall the event. Precious memories of the past, once fixed in your mind, begin to fade and you fear they’ll soon be lost forever. As you ride in a car passing places you frequented when you were younger, it’s almost as if you’ve never seen them before. You find yourself struggling to remember things you thought you’d never forget.

Small tasks that were once second nature are next to impossible to accomplish, like opening boxes and removing caps from bottles. Arthritis has weakened the hands, as well as other parts of the body.

Oh, how quickly the hands on the clock circle toward the future you thought was far away -- and how soon you become your mother!

But you do not have to live a life of fear, doubt and worry. There is a sacred power within all of us that connects us to the presence of God. As you turn to the Spirit of God within, you rediscover your inner strength and your inherent center of peace. By releasing all worry and pain, both physically and spiritually, you find that you can be calm and secure in every circumstance, even as you age.

Circumstances do not have the final word. By faith, you accept each change for what it is: a new beginning. This is a time for greater strengths to be realized and expressed, for greater blessings to flow to and from you, and for greater fulfillment to be accepted and shared by you.

Some elderly folks think they have outlived their usefulness. Nothing could be further from the truth!

When I think about the person who had the most influence on my life; my thoughts always turn to my grandmother. She worked hard all day, every day, doing chores around the house: laundry, gardening, cooking, and taking care of children, yet she always had time to sit with her children and grandchildren on a summer evening telling stories and singing songs as they swung on the old porch swing. I’ve seen her wring a chicken’s neck without flinching so her family could have golden fried chicken for Sunday dinner, and then become a much gentler soul as she kissed the face of her sleeping child at bedtime.

She believed that everyone had some good in them, if you look for it. When I feel mistreated by others, I often remember her sweet face and the way she believed in people. She fed all who walked into her house and loaned money to some, knowing she may never get it back, but trusting that the good in them would prevail. Sometimes it did.

Having a grandparent is a true blessing! And being a grandparent is a great joy! Grandparents share time and knowledge and instill a sense of stability into their families. “Is not wisdom found among the aged? Does not long life bring understanding?” (Job 12:12)

The love of a grandparent is akin to the unconditional love of God. It is a one-of-a-kind relationship!

Let us not be a society whose elderly are disposable. But let us recognize them as the worthwhile human beings they are, no matter what physical weaknesses befall them as they age.

“Youth is a gift of nature, but age is a work of art.” ~Garson Kanin